Sunteți pe pagina 1din 3

20/09/2018 G.R. No.

154338

Today is Thursday, September 20, 2018

Custom Search

Constitution Statutes Executive Issuances Judicial Issuances Other Issuances Jurisprudenc

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 154338 October 5, 2007

UNIVERSAL ROBINA CORPORATION, petitioner,


vs.
ALBERT LIM, doing business under the name and style "New H-R Grocery", respondent.

DECISION

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:

Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended,
assailing the Resolutions dated January 16, 2002 and July 1, 2002 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
67368.

The present controversy stemmed from a contract of sale between Universal Robina Corporation, petitioner, and
Albert Lim, respondent. Pursuant to the contract, petitioner sold to respondent grocery products in the total
amount of P808,059.88. After tendering partial payments, respondent refused to settle his obligation despite
petitioner’s repeated demands.

Thus, on May 31, 1999, petitioner filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 227, Quezon City, a complaint
against respondent for a sum of money, docketed as Civil Case No. Q-99-37791.1

On June 22, 1999, the trial court issued an Order dismissing the complaint motu proprio on grounds of lack of
jurisdiction and improper venue, thus:

The case is misplaced with respect to jurisdiction and venue. There is not even a remote connection by the
parties to Quezon City, where this Regional Trial Court sits, the plaintiff corporation has principal office at
Pasig City and the defendant is, as provided in the complaint, from Laoag City.

Wherefore, premises considered, this case is hereby DISMISSED without prejudice for improper venue and
for lack of jurisdiction.2

Accordingly, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration together with an amended complaint alleging that the
parties agreed that the proper venue for any dispute relative to the transaction is Quezon City.

In an Order dated October 11, 1999, the trial court granted the motion and admitted petitioner’s amended
complaint.

On December 6, 1999, summons was served upon respondent. For his failure to file an answer seasonably and
upon motion of petitioner, the trial court issued an Order dated September 12, 2000 declaring him in default and
allowing petitioner to present its evidence ex parte.3

However, on April 17, 2001, the trial court, still unsure whether venue was properly laid, issued an Order directing
petitioner to file a memorandum of authorities on whether it can file a complaint in Quezon City.4 Subsequently, on
May 11, 2001, the trial court again issued an Order dismissing the complaint on the ground of improper venue,
thus:

It appears that there is no connection whatsoever between Quezon City and the parties. Plaintiff’s official
place of business is in Pasig whereas the defendant’s residence is stated to be in Laoag City – both
stipulated in the Complaint. The filing is based on the stipulation at the back of the delivery receipt that
venue shall be in Quezon City --- which is not even stated in the Complaint nor admitted to have been
signed by the defendant.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, venue is hereby declared to have been improperly laid. This case is
hereby dismissed without prejudice to filing in the proper venue.5

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied by the trial court in its Resolution dated August 15,
2001.6

Petitioner then filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for review. But it was dismissed due to petitioner’s failure
to attach thereto an explanation why copies of the petition were not served by personal service but by registered
mail, in violation of Section 11, Rule 14 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended.7 Petitioner filed a
motion for reconsideration but it was likewise denied by the appellate court in a Resolution dated July 1, 2002,
thus:

After a careful assessment of the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration of the Resolution dated March 21,
2002 dismissing the instant case for failure to comply with Section 11, Rule 14, this Court finds the reasons
therein alleged to be not well-taken.

Moreover, Supreme Court Circular No. 1-88 and Administrative Circular No. 3-96, provide that subsequent
compliance with the requirements of a petition for review/certiorari shall not warrant reconsideration of the
order of dismissal unless the court is fully satisfied that the non-compliance with the said requirements was
not in any way attributable to the party, despite due negligence on his part, and that there are highly
justifiable and compelling reasons for the court to make such other disposition as it may deem just and
equitable.

We find such reasons wanting in the present case.

Besides, after a restudy of the facts, law and jurisprudence, as well as the dispositions already contained in
the assailed Resolutions of public respondent, we find the present petition for certiorari to be patently
without merit, and the questions raised therein are too unsubstantial to require consideration.

WHEREFORE, the motion for reconsideration is hereby DENIED for utter lack of merit.8

https://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri2007/oct2007/gr_154338_2007.html 1/3
20/09/2018 G.R. No. 154338
Hence, this petition.

The fundamental issue being raised is whether the trial court may dismiss motu proprio petitioner’s complaint on
the ground of improper venue.

Sections 2 and 4, Rule 4 of the same Rules provide:

Sec. 2. Venue of personal actions. – All other actions may be commenced and tried where the plaintiff or
any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where the defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, or
in the case of a non-resident defendant where he may be found, at the election of the plaintiff.

Sec. 4. When Rule not applicable. – This Rule shall not apply –

(a) In those cases where a specific rule or law provides otherwise; or

(b) Where the parties have validly agreed in writing before the filing of the action on the exclusive
venue thereof.

Clearly, in personal actions, the plaintiff may commence an action either in the place of his or her residence or the
place where the defendant resides. However, the parties may agree to a specific venue which could be in a place
where neither of them resides.

Corollarily, Section 1, Rule 9 of the same Rules provides for the instances when the trial court may motu proprio
dismiss a claim, thus:

Section 1. Defenses and objections not pleaded. – Defenses and objections not pleaded either in a motion
to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived. However, when it appears from the pleadings or the
evidence on record that the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter, that there is another action
pending between the same parties for the same cause, or that the action is barred by a prior judgment or
by statute of limitations, the court shall dismiss the claim.

Implicit from the above provision is that improper venue not impleaded in the motion to dismiss or in the answer is
deemed waived. Thus, a court may not dismiss an action motu proprio on the ground of improper venue as it is
not one of the grounds wherein the court may dismiss an action motu proprio on the basis of the pleadings.

In Dacoycoy v. Intermediate Appellate Court,9 this Court held that a trial court may not motu proprio dismiss a
complaint on the ground of improper venue, thus:

Dismissing the complaint on the ground of improper venue is certainly not the appropriate course of action
at this stage of the proceedings, particularly as venue, in inferior courts as well as in the courts of first
instance (now RTC), may be waived expressly or impliedly. Where the defendant fails to challenge timely
the venue in a motion to dismiss as provided by Section 4 of Rule 4 of the Rules of Court, and allows the
trial to be held and a decision to be rendered, he cannot on appeal or in a special action be permitted to
belatedly challenge the wrong venue, which is deemed waived.

Indeed, it was grossly erroneous for the trial court to have taken a procedural short-cut by dismissing motu
proprio the complaint on the ground of improper venue without first allowing the procedure outlined in the
rules of court to take its proper course. Although we are for the speedy and expeditious resolution of cases,
justice and fairness take primary importance. The ends of justice require that respondent trial court faithfully
adhere to the rules of procedure to afford not only the defendant, but the plaintiff as well, the right to be
heard on his cause.

In Rudolf Lietz Holdings Inc. v. Registry of Deeds of Parañaque,10 the Court likewise held that a trial court may
not motu proprio dismiss a complaint on the ground of improper venue, thus:

Rule 9, Section 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure states that defenses and objections not pleaded
either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived. The court may only dismiss an action
motu proprio in case of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, litis pendentia, res judicata and
prescription. Therefore, the trial court in this case erred when it dismissed the petition motu
proprio. It should have waited for a motion to dismiss or a responsive pleading from respondent,
raising the objection or affirmative defense of improper venue, before dismissing the petition.

In the instant case, respondent, despite proper service of summons, failed to file an answer and was thus
declared in default by the trial court. Verily, having been declared in default, he lost his standing in court and his
right to adduce evidence and present his defense,11 including his right to question the propriety of the venue of
the action.

WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review is GRANTED. The assailed Resolutions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
SP No. 67368 are REVERSED. The Regional Trial Court, Branch 227, Quezon City is ordered to REINSTATE Civil
Case No. Q-99-37791 and conduct an ex parte hearing for the reception of petitioner’s evidence and dispose of
the case with dispatch.

SO ORDERED.

Puno, C.J., Chairperson, Corona, Azcuna, Garcia, JJ., concur.

Footnotes

1 Rollo, p. 63.

2 Id., p. 73.

3 Id., p. 90.

4 Id., p. 91.

5 Id., p. 61.

6 Id., p. 62.

7 Id., p. 42.

8 Id., p. 31.

9 G.R. No. 74854, April 2, 1991, 195 SCRA 64.

https://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri2007/oct2007/gr_154338_2007.html 2/3
20/09/2018 G.R. No. 154338
10 398 Phil. 626 (2000).

11 Rural Bank of Sta. Catalina v. Land Bank of the Philippines, G.R. No. 148019, July 26, 2004, 435 SCRA
183.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

https://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri2007/oct2007/gr_154338_2007.html 3/3